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Powers of Congress, The

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Powers of Congress, The

Published 1947

Mr. Williams drops off to sleep for a few minutes to find himself confronted with a world in which Congress has been suspended and federal authority dissolved.

Run time 10:00
Producer Coronet Instructional Films
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


A fantasy is employed in this film to define and explain the powers of Congress. Mr. Williams drops off to sleep for a few minutes to find himself confronted with a world in which Congress has been suspended and federal authority dissolved. When he awakens from his dream, he has a better understanding of his own responsibility in the selection of that body.
Ken Smith sez: This film marks Coronet's earliest excursion into surrealism. It opens in the living room of "Charles Bentley," whose checked suit and zebra-striped tie clash maddeningly with the room's bulls-eye wallpaper pattern, and give some hint of the strange sights to come. "Congress this! Congress that!" Bentley snorts as he throws down his newspaper. "I've got more things to think about than Congress!" He stomps down to the post office to mail his tax return, and continues his tirade for the benefit of his strange-looking friend, "Williams." "What's Congress ever given me except a lot of trouble?" Bentley grunts. "You know what I think? I think we'd be better off if there WASN'T any Congress!"
CUs of soap bubbles suddenly appear as Bentley is catapulted into a black void nightmare world where all the sets are built on German Expressionist angles and everyone's voice has an echo. "LOTS of things are different without the powers of Congress!" cackles Williams, who has been transformed (thanks to low-angle lighting) into a kind of omnipresent demon. "YOU'LL see! Hee hee hee hee...." Bentley quickly discovers that, without Congress, his money is worthless, his court system is in ruins, and, worst of all, Social Security is bankrupt. "You'll have to look out for yourself when you lose your job!" Williams crows. Next, Bentley's wife arrives, sobbing that without Congress "our FHA loan was no good" and that now the Bentley's have been thrown out on the street!
Thankfully, the soap bubbles reappear and Bentley wakes up back is his nightmare-inducing living room. It was all a dream! "NOW I know what to put in my speech for the club!" he chuckles, and we leave him with a better attitude and a Social Security system that his beloved Congress would eventually leverage into bankruptcy anyway.
Man and wife listen to large radio in living room
Man buys stamps at post office. He argues about politics with a friend
CU man pounds fist on table
CU gavel pounding. Newspaper headline reads "Congress Suspended". Soap bubbles float through air.
Surrealistic post office window with laughung, uncooperative clerk.
Man with 10 gallon hat with the word TEXAS written across it
Man sleeping in living room chair is awakened by wife
Man at desk rehearses speech
Small suburban house
CU ham being carried.
CU railroad tickets and fare charters
CU face of gas pump with numbers changing ( $.23 / gallon)
Golden Gate Bridge
Hydroelectric Dam
Men talk on telephones


Reviewer: Ron Raygun - favorite - January 16, 2010
Subject: A Dumb Film
Looking at Mr. Larkin's credentials, "Dean of LIBERAL Studies", this film seeks to build government bigger, by passively brainwashing school kids on how 'wonderful' Congress is. With the current huge dissatisfaction of Congress some 60 years after this film was produced, the naivete and silliness of this film is evident. And since 1948, with the creation of the state of Israel and its octopus AIPAC, Congress has become a representative of a foreign nation, with it and our country sliding down a slippery slope to the ruins of Communism. This film producer being a liberal, promotes our elected whores in the "District of Criminals", rather than explain the powers of the Constitutional Congress from a conservative standpoint of the founding fathers. This film deserves the LOWEST rating.
Reviewer: bestpbx - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 1, 2009
Subject: This film will cause you to see visions.
It will.
Reviewer: cerpntaxt - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 13, 2007
Subject: The Glory of Centralized Authority
10 minutes about how congress is so great and then you warn us that we can't have _the wrong people_ in charge? Makes a lot of beautiful assumptions that all add up to the sexiest straw man that I have ever laid eyes on.
Reviewer: Dad_da_Man - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 14, 2007
Subject: truth is stranger than fiction
with the exceptions of the taxes, military being gone, this little movie just about sums up the state of Americas federal government right now. Sure,I write with a little sarcasm, but just a little.

Also, why is the "non congress" actor an Asian? I was wondering because of the time this was made, was it a way to suggest if congress was gone, the United States would be like?? oh , I dont know, China?

Very interesting to watch this considering the current state of America, that is for sure.
Reviewer: owen1218 - favoritefavorite - July 21, 2005
Subject: propaganda film
bleh. I liked the setup and the style of the dream scenes but other than that this is just an advertisement for the US government.
Reviewer: tambora - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 9, 2004
Subject: Zinc?
Zinc? I'd say that the Simpsons were actually parodying a little film by the name of "Shane" (1953) where the kid says, "Come Back, Shane! Come back!"

As to this film, it's delightfully surreal and a worthy addition to most any Prelinger collection.
Reviewer: trafalgar - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 14, 2004
Subject: Come back Congress!
Does this remind anyone else of the Simpsons industrial film parody where a boy is transported into a world without Zinc? "Come back Zinc!...Come back!!!!"
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 6, 2004
Subject: Wooooooo!!
It's been a while since I've seen a Coronet film, so I was looking forward to seeing this one, but I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I was going to see quite possibly the most trippiest Coronet movie I've seen. The Powers Of Congress fatures a man by the name of Charles Bentley, who complains about Congress at every turn, how we don't need elections, taxes etc. It then seagues into this weird world full of wild sets, weird voices and uh, bubbles (Robot Monster influences here!) to tell what would happen if there wasn't any congress. His wife wakes him up.. it was a dream! (He must've been hypnotized by the wallpaper) and immediately knows what his topic is going to be for his 'speech at the club'! It then goes stumping for a bit which is a little less interesting.. but boy, what a great beginning three quarters! Highly reccomended!
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 17, 2004
Subject: Big Government Goes Up In Bubbles
In this prescient 1947 film, a disgruntled Mr. Williams, angry at having to pay his income tax and irritated that he has to walk a mile to the post office to buy stamps (no wonder people were thinner then), grumbles about the ÃÂpowers of Congress.ÃÂ Today we would call it the power of ÃÂBig Government.ÃÂ Mr. Williams falls asleep, bubbles appear on the screen, and he has a surrealist nightmare in which the federal government is no more. Each state now has their own currency and militia. The bank forecloses on his mortgage because thereÃÂs no FHA loans. ThereÃÂs no regulation of patents, so his company goes under. ÃÂYouÃÂll have to look out for yourself when your loose your job!ÃÂ his boss sneers as he fires him. There is no income taxÃÂbut thereÃÂs also no minimum wage, unemployment benefits or social security. Charles wakes up, it was all a bad dream! Charles writes a speech for his club about the virtues of the federal government. Ironically, everything he praises are programs the current Republican administration is trying to dismantle: ÃÂWe know the food we eat is pure. Why? Because it is inspected by the laws made through the power of Congress.ÃÂ ÃÂCongress even limits the number of hours we work and the minimum salaries weÃÂre paid.ÃÂ Even though we gripe about federal taxes (we see a gas station gauge with gas at 23 cents a gallon) we get ÃÂour magnificent National ForestsÃÂ and ÃÂprotection of our healthÃÂ in return. Has his dream has turned Mr. Williams into a bleeding heart liberal? Maybe notÃÂÃÂthese powers reach right into our home, into our very lives!ÃÂ Could he mean the Patriot Act? This film was made when Americans still had visceral memories of the Great Depression. They remembered what it was like when the Hoover administration stood by and let big business run the country. America is on the verge of having Mr. WilliamÃÂs nightmare today, minus the bubbles.
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